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Hong Kong MTR

MTR passengers need to be aware of rail risks

Railway company must answer for the shutdown of East Rail services, but those who forced open train doors and walked along the tracks did not help matters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 1:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 1:31am

The city’s rail operator has a lot to answer for after yet another serious service breakdown. For some two hours on Thursday, the East Rail ground to a complete halt soon after 9am. Unacceptable as it is, the public may well have to live with the reality that the Mass Transit Railway is experiencing more technical glitches these days.

It would also do well for passengers to know how to better respond in such circumstances, in particular the ones stranded on trains. Escaping via open rail tracks is certainly not advisable.

Service resumes on Hong Kong MTR East Rail Line after two-hour stoppage causes commuter chaos, stranding thousands

This was not the first time for the signal system to malfunction, but.the scale of the impact was one of the most serious. Services on the entire East Rail were stopped after attempts to revive the system failed. A total of 14 trains were stranded on the tracks, and cross-border services were also suspended.

Commuters were, not surprisingly, upset, but they had no reason to act out of order. Some passengers stranded on carriages near Fanling and Fo Tan reportedly forced open train doors and walked along the tracks to get to station platforms.

According to the rail operator, the air conditioning and lighting systems on trains were functioning properly. Frustrating and inconvenient as it was, passengers were definitely safer staying on board than venturing onto a railway powered by high electricity. Not only were they jeopardising their own safety, they may have also caused obstruction and delay. Staff had to inspect and make sure no one was left on the tracks, thereby prolonging the resumption of services.

Hong Kong MTR to replace faulty cables that led to August delay on Kwun Tong Line

The MTR used to be so dominant and reliable that even the slightest hiccups would cause mayhem. Mechanical glitches do happen. But when they become frequent occurrences, commuters are understandably outraged. This is not helped whenbackup measures stillfall short of expectations after so many years.

The rail operator said the signal failures had nothing to do with the ongoing replacement works. We trust it will find the root of the problem and prevent any reoccurrence. Equally important is the need to improve contingency arrangements and to step up education on how passengers should respond in such circumstances.